I found Garry Will’s writings on John Wayne interesting, mainly because I’ve always heard so much hype around John Wayne, but never really understood why, even after watching several of his movies. What seems to be most captivating about Wayne is something I don’t see as entirely concrete; everybody just thinks he has a very masculine presence/body. Most of this is contributed to his “walk” and ability to carry himself with some sort of grace and poise by taking “easy control of his large body.” With comments such as, “The sonuvabitch looked like a man,” and that, “there was something overpoweringly sexy in the way Wayne sat and rode his horse,” it just doesn’t seem very convincing as to why people considered him the epitome of masculinity, the reason seemed to be that, he just was.
What I found particularly interesting was the deep analysis of Wayne’s walk. It was a big contributing factor in why he was highly admired and praised. The man apparently knew how to really sell his performance through his body language while simultaneously becoming the idol of what it meant to be “a man” to boys everywhere. But what’s weird is the fact that he was applauded for being so light and graceful and easy while still maintaining this very rugged manly figure and aura. These seem to be characteristics that are stereotypically female and even the notion of studying his walk was weird to Wayne as it was deemed “unmanly for a male to be as conscious of his body’s display…” I feel like noticing a walk is something stereotypically “analyzed” in women, usually for purposes of over sexualization, whether it be a model walking the catwalk or a woman walking down the street.Yet it was something Wayne's fans couldn't stop talking about.
While there were many other factors that contributed to Wayne’s maleness, such as the way he spoke, the way he dressed, as well as the values he stood for in real life, the focus on his walk takes precedence over all. Wayne could not only talk the talk, but he could walk the walk.